My Travels in India - Week 2

May 20 2014 - 3:53pm

The commute is getting a little more manageable, but still quite adventurous in terms of timing my jumps to make the accelerating train cars. The people on the train are usually silent, and many of them stare awkwardly at the young Asian American sitting amongst them, if only for a few seconds. But the hour-long train ride from Santacruz, where the Columbia housing is situated, and Nariman Point, downtown Mumbai where the businesses lie, often puts me to sleep so I didn’t notice the furtive glances in my direction. Work was starting to pick up as the associates grew more comfortable giving me more challenging projects.

This week, I was assigned to the litigation department and had a chance to go to the Bombay High Court, the appeals court assigned for the state of Maharastra. Our firm had a designated official counsel, a man that would speak on behalf of AZB and Partners in front of the magistrate. The rest of the litigation department was full of litigators, lawyers charged with researching the relevant facts of any particular case.

Along with two associates from litigation, I followed the official counsel to the Bombay High Court and took notes on an insolvency case that our client was involved in. Our client, an Indian construction company represented by an agent, had wanted to cancel an oral contract for the purchase of shares to an investor. Already, one installment of payments had been made, albeit only for a small percentage of the shares. Presumably, our client had found a higher price for the shares and had wanted to terminate the agreement.

On my end of things, I was assigned to legal research of Indian law regarding oral agreements and their binding effects on a company. My supervising associate had wanted me to discover a Supreme Court case in which the Court held that an oral agreement made by an agent of the company cannot be binding on the entire company.

The search took longer than several hours, and in fact detained me at the office until 12:00 am that week. The exhaustion from the work hours prevented my seeing the final verdict, which was ultimately in our client’s favor.

On the bright side for that week, I was able to see more of the city and learn a little more about the culture in India. In India, New Delhi is considered “the city of sights” whereas

Mumbai is considered “the city of stories.” Similar to the relationship between Washington, DC and New York back in the United States, India’s dynamic metropolises share roles between mass culture and political power. Mumbai is home to Bollywood, India’s rapidly growing, multibillion dollar music/theater/television headquarters.

Nariman Point, the place where I worked this summer, represented the downtown, “Old Money” district of Mumbai (Wall Street). In Lower Parel, the equivalent of New York’s midtown, Mumbai housed quickly growing construction projects that already housed numerous consulting, banking, and trading firms. Finally, the “suburbs” where I was staying in Santacruz and near Bandra housed Mumbai’s “New Money,” home to many of India’s rising middle class workers.

To conclude the weekend, I was able to experience a taste of Bollywood firsthand. Together with all of the other interns, I went to a massive Indian movie theater and watched Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, a love story between a globetrotting, freelance photographer and a successful doctor confined to her practice in India. For anyone reading this journal, it is highly recommended that you experience this movie yourself.

The picture on the bottom is scene from a tradition called Holi in India, where hundreds of people will throw paint in celebration. Columbia’s HOLI, the precursor to Bacchanal, is modeled after this ancient Indian tradition.

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